Irving’s 31 Lifts Cavs Past Magic on Road
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
ORLANDO, Fla. – Kyrie Irving scored 31 points, Dion Waiters added 21, and the Cleveland Cavaliers used a big second half to earn just their second road victory of the season, 109-100 over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
Waiters had 20 points in the second half and Cleveland outmuscled the Magic 36-30 in the paint.
Cleveland has won three straight and five out of six. It was the Cavaliers’ first road win since Nov. 16.
Orlando tried different combinations to try and contain Irving, but nothing worked as it blew a 14-point, first-half lead. The Magic have lost seven of their last eight.
Victor Oladipo tied a career high with 26 points. Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson each added 17, but Orlando shot just 43 percent from the field.
Things got heated in the final seconds, when Magic forward Andrew Nicholson shoved Cavaliers big man Anderson Varejao in the back after he made an easy layup.
With Varejao – who had gone to the bench in the first half after banging his knee – still on the floor, Waiters briefly confronted Nicholson as referees stepped in.
Following a huddle by officials, Nicholson was given a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected him.
The Magic seemed to be on their way to victory in the first half.
After being stricken by a spate of injuries early in the season, they had forward Tobias Harris on the floor for just the second time this season.
Harris, who has been hampered by a sprained left ankle, didn’t start and played sparingly, logging just 15 minutes. He picked up his scoring in the second half, but his efforts weren’t enough to hold off the surging Cavaliers down the stretch.
Harris’ 3-pointer gave the Magic a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter before Waiters ignited a 14-0 run that put Cleveland up 95-85 with less than six minutes to play.
The Cavaliers pushed their lead to 101-90 with 2:29 to play. The Magic had one more run in them and got within 101-96 on a pair of free throws by Afflalo, but they got no closer.
Orlando started fast on offense, connecting on nine of its first 13 field goals, while pushing the tempo in the open floor as it built as much as a 14-point advantage.
The Magic had 19 fast-break points in the first half. Their season high for a game had been 20 against Boston in early November.
Their shooting went cold in the second quarter, though, and with it the Magic’s cushion which was just a point at halftime.
After the initial hot start, Orlando finished the half just 9 of 29 from field. Meanwhile, Irving carried Cleveland’s offensive load with 16 first-half points as it recovered from a 9-for-24 shooting effort in first quarter to go 12 for 19 in the second.